Positive Behavior System getting results at Johnson


Johnson Middle School eighth graders, from left to right, Taylor Burgess, Abby Warthling, Madison McClaskey and Jordyn Schaeffer have embraced the school’s Positive Behavior Support System, which rewards students for good conduct. Photo by Carl Kotala

Teachers, administrators and even students have noticed the impact of the Positive Behavior Support System put in place at Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School.

The school, which serves Suntree-area families near the Pineda Causeway Extension, began looking at ways to phase in the system three years ago, but has been fully implementing it the past two.

“We’ve had a lot of success with it,” said Sommer McDonald, the school’s Dean of Discipline. “Traditionally, in the classroom, the student who is not doing what they’re supposed to be doing gets all the attention.

“The idea with the Positive Behavior Support is that the spotlight goes onto the student who is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and that makes it much more desirable.”

At the beginning of the school year, students are given a school ID card, which is called a passport. And it truly is the passport to happiness for students … provided they meet the school’s behavioral expectations, known as REPPS (Respect, Engaged, Prompt, Prepared and Safe).

“In order for the students to have privileges here on campus, they have to be in possession of their passport,” McDonald said. “For example, during lunch, if you have a passport, you’re allowed on the patio and you can use your cell phone and socialize.

“If you don’t have your passport, you have to remain seated in the cafeteria.”

That provides plenty of motivation for students.

“I know a lot of people who don’t like to sit in the cafeteria with noise,” eighth-grader Taylor Burgess said. “They like to be out here [on the patio] with their phone. This generation, everyone’s on technology.”

There are other advantages, too, such as random classroom checks where every student with a passport gets a bag of popcorn. Entry into a basketball game or one of the school festivals also requires a passport.

Additionally, every member of the school — from the bus drivers and cafeteria workers to teachers and administrators — carry Longhorn Commendation Tickets, which are given for good behavior.

Those tickets are put into one of three boxes, called troughs, and every Friday,  six to nine names are drawn. Students can win prizes such as in-house coupons like moving to the front of the lunch line, a small-amount gift-card or school “swag.”

Bad behavior can result in the loss of the passport, usually for one to three days depending on the offense. A suspension, however, means a five-day loss of privileges. McDonald said 80 percent of Johnson students keep their passport all year long.

“I think it’s a good system because it inspires us to want to get the REPPS tickets more and behave more, sort of like getting something to reward yourself with,” eighth-grader Abby Warthling said.